In a 1997 movie called “Flubber”, an absent-minded professor, played by the late Robin Williams, invents a super bouncy rubber product that is the central theme in the comedy movie. More recently a phenomenon called phubbing has swept the land. Jack Freed wrote about it in his blog Jack’s Winning Words recently. ‘Phubbing’ was coined in 2013 and is a mix of words ‘phone’ and snubbing’ It is the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at a phone. P-phubbing is the act of ignoring a partner by being distracted by tech. Snubbing your partner by checking your phone can cause them to become depressed and anxious.
Jack’s post was titled “Stop looking at your phone. Look around you.”
I must admit that I’m a bit of a phubber these days. I have a really hard time not taking my phone out to see what just came in, if it dings or make any other sound to indicate that a new email or message or Instagram has just arrived. There is a sense of immediacy about it that demands me attention. My wife finds that to be both disturbing and sad. I agree when I sit and think about it, but so far cannot overcome the urge to see what is happening that caused the alert sound.
I’m not sure that my behavior actually fits the definition of Phubbing, since I am not overtly trying to snub those around me, although I am ignoring them while distracted by my phone. Perhaps it is more like the epidemic of distracted driving that has caused so many accidents since he rise of the smartphone. I guess one might call this phenomenon “distracted living.”
Whatever it is, the advice that Jack’s blog contained to stop looking at your phone and start looking at (and interacting with) those people and things around you is sound. One cannot have a relationship with a device and even though the visual experiences available through the phone are amazing, they do not contain the other sensory cues that real experiences contain and are thus somewhat one-dimensional. The sights may be wonderful, but the sights, sounds, smells and feel of actually being there and in the experience are far more wonderful and lasting.
Some people think of this activity as “multi-tasking”; however, I think that might be best described as “doing multiple things poorly at the same time.” If you don’t focus upon the things and people at hand you don’t really understand what is happening around you or catch the clues from the people that carry the real messages that they are trying to get across. Perhaps the most important message is the request – “Look at me.” You cannot be there for someone if your eyes and mind are focused somewhere else, like on your phone.
Don’t let distracted living rob you of the truly important moments in life when others reach out to you for help or to show affection. You cannot really love your phone, nor can it show you love back. Besides that, real life doesn’t need to be recharged every 8-12 hours. Your significant other shouldn’t need to tape your phone to their forehead (see Jack’s post) in order for you to look at them, nor will seeing a Facebook post about your children’s sports events really be the same as being there for them. Put the phone down and pick up life again.
Oh, sorry, I’ve got to go; I just heard a ding from my pocket.